Media sells voter ID sensationalism

Common sense is getting less common these days.

One of the most hotly debated issues of our day shouldn’t even be an issue at all: photo ID laws for voting. While over 70 percent of Americans agree with voter ID laws, a furious alternate narrative is rising. I wish to speak for the silent majority.

I was drawn into this debate as I watched a contentious interview on CNN concerning the research done by News21 of ASU’s Cronkite School. Host Ashleigh Banfield interrogated her guest John Fund by using talking points from News21. Fund offered exhaustive evidence as to why photo ID laws were necessary to combat voter fraud. Banfield cited News21, which claims voter fraud is rare and that photo ID laws exist to “suppress” votes.

Opponents of voter ID laws are often guilty of stoking up racial fears, insinuating that these laws Republican lawmakers’ attempts to prevent minority groups, who may not have photo IDs, from voting against them.

To its credit, the News21 program I watched purposefully pointed out that one of the first states to adopt Photo ID laws was Rhode Island, which had a nearly complete Democrat state Senate. News21 didn’t mention Rhode Island Democrat Rep. Anastasia Williams who supported the law after being unable to vote in another case of voter fraud.

Curiously though, News21 labeled Rhode Island’s Democrat majority verdict “bipartisan” while other states with more Republican influence were labeled “partisan.” News21 should be commended for admitting that its database is incomplete and that they are still missing data from several states, but it discredits its claim that voter fraud is not an issue.

Last summer, a video surfaced online showing a young white student walking into a polling place in Washington, D.C. He asked for the ballot of Eric Holder, our African-American U.S. Attorney General.  He was offered Holder’s ballot without question.

Holder’s ballot was sought because ironically he is one of the major critics of photo ID laws. The student did not go through with stealing Holder’s vote, although the video shows he easily could have.

Cases of voter fraud seem so few because they’re incredibly easy to pull off and difficult to stop. Many argue the threat of felony charges should discourage these crimes. That’s like claiming the threat of the death penalty eliminates murder. Voter fraud is easier because it leaves no bodies.

As for the claim of disenfranchising minority voters, getting an ID is important for all walks of life.  You cannot board a plane without it.  You cannot get a job without it.  Or buy beer.  Or Cigarettes. Or check out a library book. You cannot attend the Democrat National Convention without it. Is our right to vote less sacred to guard than those?

It’s not a political issue, but a moral one. What truly disenfranchises voters are organizations like News21 that discourage them from assimilating into society by simply getting IDs.

                 

Reach the columnist at colton.gavin@asu.edu or follow him at @coltongavin.

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